Egypt to release vessel impounded in the wake of Suez Canal blockage

Egypt is set to release the MV Ever Given on Wednesday, over 100 days after the megaship was refloated, having blocked the Suez Canal for six days, crippling global supply lines and costing billions.

The 200,000-tonne container vessel became wedged across the canal during a sandstorm on 23 March, blocking the shortest route from Asia to Europe. The Suez Canal carries 10 percent of global maritime trade and pumps vital revenues into Egyptian state coffers.

After a round-the-clock salvage operation to dislodge the ship, Egypt demanded compensation from Japanese owners Shoei Kisen Kaisha for lost canal revenues, salvage costs and damage to the shipping channel.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) announced Sunday that a final deal had been reached, without disclosing the amount of compensation to be paid.

Cairo demanded 850 million euros

Cairo had initially demanded 850 million euros in compensation before slashing that to around 470 million, but the final amount has been the subject of tough negotiations.

The SCA announced last month that it had signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Japanese firm ahead of reaching a final deal.

SCA chairman Osama Rabie, in a televised interview on Sunday, hailed the deal.

“We maintained our rights and we kept good relations with our clients,” he said.

Millions in lost revenues

Cairo, which earns nearly 5 billion euros every year from the Suez, lost between 10 million and 12 million in revenues for each day the waterway was closed, according to the SCA.

The MV Ever Given’s grounding and the intensive salvage efforts needed to refloat it also resulted in significant damage to the canal.

In April, maritime data company Lloyd’s List said the blockage held up cargo worth nearly 8 billion euros each day.

The Taiwanese-operated and Panama-flagged vessel was refloated on 29 March, and tailbacks involving 420 vessels at the northern and southern entrances to the canal were cleared in early April.

On Tuesday, the Ismailia Economic Court ruled the seized ship and its crew could be released, following a request from the SCA.

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